1963-2013 - 50 years of Research for Social Change

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Back | Programme Area: Social Policy and Development (2000 - 2009)

Singapore: Growing Wealth, Poverty Avoidance and Management (Country Overview Paper 6) (Draft)



In four decades Singapore has undergone a transformation from a British colonial government to a globally connected complex industrial and financial economy. This paper examines Singapore’s economic success in terms of the continuity and changes in policies the long-governing People’s Action Party (PAP) had put in place since the inception of its rule. These policies include: (i) wealth creation, for the nation and the individual, through job creation and employment; (ii) an individualized social security savings system that eschewed any redistribution, sharing of social risk or social insurance; (iii) universal home-ownership which disciplines the labour force but simultaneously provides social security and gives the home-owners a stake in the nation worth defending; (iv) the subsidized public housing flat is an asset that the home-owner can ultimately convert into a source of sustained income, either through capital gains from its sale or through collection of rent.